The Mt. Vernon Knights have been able to beat their opponents in Section 1 because of their size and rebounding ability.
Coach Damon Wright's Cougars were able to contain the Knights on the boards for most of the game; however it was the play of junior forward Sherrod Wright that carried the Westchester, NY school to win their game at The Nike Super 6 in Madison Square Garden by a score of 66-60.
Paterson Catholic used their size early in the game to their advantage, as starting center Ian Chiles used his size on the offensive end to him and his team's advantage. Mt. Vernon, who came into this game off of a strong, dominating win over Westchester-rival White Plains, also went hard in the paint, as they attacked the offensive glass to try and get second chances. Heading the attack was West Virginia-bound forward Kevin Jones, who finished with five offensive boards in the first quarter alone. Jones found much of his success inside throughout the course of the game, as he was not shooting the ball well from the perimeter against Paterson. Because of the Knights' tenaciousness on the glass, head coach Bob Cimmino's team took a 14-8 lead into the second quarter.
Paterson Catholic head coach Damon Wright made a number of adjustments in his frontcourt heading into the second frame, as he began rotating Trevor Clemmings and Ian Chiles to keep fresh bodies in the game to rebound. These changes in their lineup paid dividends for the Cougars as they went on a 5-0 run to open the quarter and took a 30-27 lead into halftime. Sharp-shooting guard Wayne Mack, who knocked down three three-pointers in the quarter to stretch out the Mt. Vernon defense, also helped Paterson.
Paterson Catholic made more adjustments heading into the third quarter, as they opened the half playing an aggressive zone and doubling down on Kevin Jones in the post. Paterson was able to stretch their lead to 38-31 on a lay-up by the sophomore Clemmings. The New Jersey school was able to pad their lead thanks to improved rebounding and their talented backcourt, led by Seton Hall-bound Jordan Theodore, running the floor more and scoring more points in transition. A lay-up by Theodore at the end of the third quarter gave the Cougars a 48-37 lead heading into the final quarter.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Mt. Vernon remained in their full court press after made baskets and turnover. The Knights were able to cut lead to 56-50 on a three pointer by the highly recruited Sherrod Wright with 4:34 left in the game. Keeping on the full court pressure throughout the game proved to be a good move by head coach Bob Cimmino, as the young Paterson players began tiring and becoming careless with the basketball.
Junior forward Vaughn Allen's lay-up and a foul with 1:49 left in the game cut the lead to 60-59 after Allen missed the free throw that followed.
Sherrod Wright then began a phenomenal stretch of play throughout the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. A Wright three pointer gave Mt. Vernon a 2-point lead, 62-60, their first edge since the second quarter. Wright's lay-up on their next possession padded the lead to two possessions, going up 64-60 with just under a minute left to play. "Big-time players show up in big-time games, and they both (Sherrod Wright and Kevin Jones) definitely did today," said Cimmino following the game.
Sherrod Wright continued his impressive final few minutes by hitting two free throws to secure the win for the Westchester school up, putting them up by six with just 14.8 seconds to play.
Cimmino acknowledged the improved defensive play in the later parts of the second half, likely turned on by the defensive pressure that was put on by Mt. Vernon. "It was one of our better comeback efforts," said Cimmino as he added, "we just didn't compete early. Shots weren't falling but the defensive effort wasn't there either."
Jones, a hardnosed player who will fit the hardnosed style of coach Bob Huggins' Mountaineers, won the game MVP after finishing with 25 points and 19 rebounds. Guard Lance Brown, who finished with 16 points and eight boards, led Paterson Catholic.
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